Thailand has become a tourism paradise for Chinese travellers as they are coming to the Land of Smiles in sharply increasing numbers.
In the first nine months of this year, the number of Chinese arriving in Thailand reached 3.74 million, a 93% jump year-on-year, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The sharp increase in Chinese arrivals is attributed partly to the success of the Chinese film "Lost in Thailand" which came out last year. The movie was shot in many locations in the North including Chiang Mai.
If you visit Chiang Mai or Phuket today, you will bump into an army of Chinese tourists _ at temples, restaurants, markets, and other popular spots.
Some reports say the government is considering waiving visa fees for the Chinese to make Thailand even more attractive.
However, I don't think it's a good idea. Are we ready to receive more Chinese tourists? I am not so sure about that.
I have several reasons to support my argument.
Firstly, the country has no shortage of international tourists. In fact, the number of foreign tourists visiting Thailand has been on the rise for years.
Last year, we welcomed altogether 22.3 million tourists from around the world, up 16% from 2011, and the figure is likely to rise to 25 million this year.
With regards to travellers from China, 2.7 million tourists came last year, surpassing Malaysians, with 2.5 million arrivals, for the first time.
It should be noted that Chinese tourists are not big spenders. They tend not to spend as much as Europeans. A former hotel executive who is now in a long-stay housing project in Chiang Mai told me that while Chinese tourists love to visit Thailand, they don't shop much.
This is probably because our souvenirs, ranging from silk neckties, pillowcases, scarves as well as decorative wooden items, are mostly made in China.
It's a well-known fact that China, with its low wages, has become a major manufacturing base of such products with lower price tags.
Another reason is the inappropriate behaviour of some Chinese tourists.
The Chinese government recently issued a travel guidebook for its citizens who travel abroad. Among the tips are: no nose-picking; observe manners while eating; and attend to toilet etiquette.
I have some first-hand experience of Chinese manners. During a stay in a Pattaya hotel, I saw a group of Chinese tourists, who were walking back from the beach, stop by the hotel's swimming pool to wash their feet. Needless to say, this upset the swimmers.
Several hotel executives said some European tourists would avoid staying in the same hotel as Chinese travellers, because Chinese have a tendency to make noise.
Each hotel has a different policy but the management of Zadig, a chic hotel which is under construction in Paris, made it clear that when the place opens next year, it would rather not welcome tour groups from China.
The last issue that we should not overlook is the overstay problem.
Some Chinese tourists may end up as illegal migrants and get involved in crime.
We should learn from Japan. After they waived tourist visa fees for Thailand a few months ago, about 6,000 Thais are said to have decided to stay illegally in the country.
It's a big headache for Tokyo, triggering rumours that it might end the visa exemption early next year.
While the Japanese government has denied these rumours, it said it may impose stricter measures to tackle the problem soon. That's Japan, where the immigration system is transparent. But Thailand is different. We have a problem of weak law enforcement and this may give corrupt officials an opportunity to abuse the system.
I think we should think more carefully, weighing the pros and cons, before waiving visa fees for Chinese tourists. We are not ready for the consequences.
Krissana Parnsoonthorn is Deputy Business Editor, Bangkok Post.